Australia and India go into the final in search of their 'perfect game'

Australia and India go into the final in search of their 'perfect game'

Shafali Verma's blitz helped India reach the final. Will she be able to pull off another spectacular show? © Getty Images

Through the course of the T20I tr-series in Australia, England looked to be the best team. They came back from a difficult loss against India to post consecutive wins to enter the final league game on top of the points table. Most thought they were a shoo-in for the final. After the first innings on Sunday (February 9), they should have been.

However, Australia’s bowlers dug them out of a hole, not only securing their place in the final with a 16-run win, but also knocking England out of the competition by keeping them to a score below 124. And thus, India snuck into the final where they will face the hosts at the Junction Oval in Melbourne on Wednesday (February 12).

So far, neither team has played the ‘perfect game’. For India, their bowling came to the fore in the opening encounter against England where they restricted their powerful batting line-up to a total of 147, before their batting finally came good in a mammoth chase of 174 against Australia in their final group game. It has been a case of one skill stepping up to the plate when the other failed to do so.

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The hosts, on the other hand, have been far from their best – searching for the best combination in their rich pool of resources. After handing rookie Annabel Sutherland her debut in their opening encounter against England, they brought back the fiery quick, Tayla Vlaeminck, into the line-up and rattled India with their pace. Then, in a must-win encounter against England, Sutherland was benched, and Sophie Molineux allowed to make her presence felt.

The form of Alyssa Healy is certainly a major concern for Australia. That the right-hander looks like she is suddenly unable to buy a run this series is not a good sign ahead of the World Cup. However, with Healy, one has the feeling that a good hit is often always around the corner – one powerful boundary straight down the ground and the runs will flow again.

In contrast, the form of Beth Mooney, Ashleigh Gardner and the rhythm of Vlaeminck are all positive signs. The trio have put their hands up when some of the more senior players have struggled and made the most of their opportunities. Gardner’s incredible display of power against India gave the world a peak into the depth and treasures within this Australian line-up. Vlaeminck’s rapid pace and control with the ball has also been a revelation this series.

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Despite their patchy form this series, the hosts will no doubt go into the final as marginal favourites against what has been a hugely unpredictable Indian team. Where India’s bowlers have shown great fight over the last couple of weeks – attempting to defend two below-par scores – their batting has been largely disappointing. Harmanpreet Kaur’s heroics in game one and Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma’s blistering partnership in the final round game have been the only positives for them. Their middle order has looked frail and their over-dependence on the top four seems to have led to a somewhat overly defensive tactics at the top.

How they approach the final – and whether they stick with Harleen Deol or fall back on Veda Krishnamurthy – will be interesting to see. At the start of the series, few would have predicted India would so easily topple Australia in one of the games. Now they have a real shot at winning the whole thing… An Indian team with nothing to lose is the most dangerous kind.


Australia: Alyssa Healy (wk), Beth Mooney, Ashleigh Gardner, Meg Lanning (c), Ellyse Perry, Rachael Haynes, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Annabel Sutherland, Georgia Wareham, Megan Schutt, Nicola Carey, Sophie Molineux, Erin Burns, Tayla Vlaeminck.

India: Shafali Verma, Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Veda Krishnamurthy, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Deepti Sharma, Shikha Pandey, Pooja Vastrakar, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Radha Yadav, Richa Ghosh, Arundhati Reddy, Harleen Deol, Nuzhat Parween, Poonam Yadav.

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